Friday, October 22, 2021


If I’m honest, I think this is the greatest American song, and this is its best version.

•   OK cowboys and cowgirls, I’m giving you not one but TWO free samples from Roy Edroso Breaks It Down this week. Feast your eyes:

1. The one about how, though you hear pundits talking about “civil war” as if both sides are choking for it, civil war is really a rightwing thing -- for reasons both political (they know most people won’t vote for them so they celebrate other means of holding power) and psychological (they’re nuts).

2. The one about the rightwing ladies’ magazine I was talking about here yesterday, and how its development mirrors that of other culture-warrior attempts to promote a “conservative” version of something popular: After an initial attempt to “pass,” they give up and become yet another industrial-strength propaganda pump.

Think how great it would be to receive such treasures in your inbox five days a week, with a subscription! But meantime, enjoy.

•   It’s not like me to recommend other people’s essays because I’m selfish, but I encourage wide dissemination of Michael Hobbes’ “The Methods of Moral Panic Journalism” in which, after a quick and apt comparison to the “tort lawsuits out of control” bullshit stories of years past, he rips the bark off the whole Cancel Culture Woke PC blubber brigade. You all know how I feel about this subject, but Hobbes takes a bit of time to pin down some malefactors and it’s glorious, e.g.:

A surprisingly large percentage of “illiberal left” articles pull this same rhetorical trick. In 2019, Laurie Sheck, a New School professor, was investigated by her employer for saying the n-word in class. For weeks, centrist and conservative media outlets sputtered to her defense: The word appeared in a quote from James Baldwin! She was leading a class discussion about racial slurs! Invoking epithets wasn’t even prohibited in any school policies. The case became a totemic example of Wokeness Gone Mad that still pops up in anecdote-parade feature stories two years later.

But that version of the story leaves out an important epilogue. The university cleared Scheck without any punishment. The pundits were right: She hadn’t violated any school policies.

Scheck’s case, as soon as you tell it in full, turns out to be an example of a university that isn’t captured by leftist ideology. Only a single (white) student complained about Sheck’s use of the n-word. Like most universities, the New School has a grievance mechanism that allows students to file complaints and obligates administrators to take them seriously. The term “investigation” conjures up comparisons to Orwell and Kafka, but in this case it appears administrators interviewed Sheck and the student, reviewed their policies and moved on. Perhaps you wish the student had never filed a complaint in the first place, but this is the story of a system working as intended, not breaking down.

And so on. There’s plenty else to say about this popular rightwing propaganda technique -- I’m reminded of the endless skein of Rod Dreher “reader” “mail” in which anonymous alleged correspondents claim they’ve been cancelcultured -- and we have to keep telling the truth about it, notwithstanding that bullshit is at present more popular, in the hope that it'll eventually sink in. 

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